The Meetup Results

To the management of Bowness Park: I’m sorry for taking over your park facility with 300 people and turning it into a media circus…just kidding.

Actually our first meetup was a lot of fun.  Robert and his family came along with our regular commenter Alex and his family and of course my family.  So while the event was small we did have a lot of fun doing a wiener roast and playing with the kids and of course getting a chance to talk a bit more in person.  Overall it went so well that we decided we should do this at least annually since I am typically near the Calgary area just about every summer to visit family anyway.

What perhaps stuck me the most about meeting everyone was the fact we all are fairly damn normal people.  Not to say I expect any of us to be weird or anything, but rather given our focus on financial independence on this blog we actually didn’t spend that much time talking about money at all.  It was really just like hanging out with some friends and their families for the afternoon.  Perhaps my only regret on the day was I made dinner plans so I had to leave about 5pm when I could have easily spent more time with everyone.

A huge thank you for Robert who picked out the park and the supplies for the event.  I also appreciate him managing to get a great spot in the park without a reservation which of course saved us some money… come on the guy is financially independent at 34, what did you expect? *grin*

The Sales Pitch

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any.  Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

I am the world’s greatest salesperson.  I can sell anything to my customer, know all the buttons to push and rarely let them out of the store without closing the sale.  The problem is that I’m also the customer of this relationship.  Before I got my financial priorities in order,  I was able to sell myself into buying anything, which was part of the reason from the age of 25-28 I really didn’t save all that much money, I basically spent everything I made.  There were a few sales pitches that I employed that were very successful:

It’s a once in the lifetime opportunity: I used this many times to spend more money than I should have on travelling.  Sometimes it actually was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but usually it was just me not wanting to miss out on something fun.

It’s a really good deal: I accumulated a lot of “stuff” buy utilizing this tactic, I would stock up on things that really don’t need to be stocked up on, or items that would be on sale at the same “deal” price at a future date.  Normally, I would buy an excessive amount of clothing and at a future date decide I didn’t like the style or colour , or I had changed sizes.

I deserve it: This was an amazing seller – I was able to talk myself into buying items that I didn’t need at all using this tactic – explaining to myself that I was working really hard and deserved to treat myself with a new “something”.  Out of all my sales pitches, this one still works the best on me – especially now that I am on somewhat more solid financial ground with money sitting around.

Once I had a financial plan in mind, my purchases of un-needed, and unwanted stuff decreased significantly.  The focus of my spending was to my future, more than the now, which has usually (but not always) allowed me to not even start with my various internal sales pitches.  The vast majority of my spending is planned a saved for, which will hopefully allow me to achieve my goal of retiring by age 45.

I think that most people (like myself 5 years ago) generally have no plan, which is why they end up spending everything they make (and then some).  Additionally, I think that some people are much better sales people to themselves then they realize, which is why they end up with tons o f  stuff that they don’t need and really didn’t want in the first place – they end up at the store, see something neat and talk themselves into buying it, only to let it collect dust until it’s thrown out.

I am now more conscientious of my “inner-salesperson” – how do you try to stop impulse purchases?  Do you still fall for your own sales pitches only to regret it later?

Choosing Meaningful Work

This is a guest post by Robert, who lives in Calgary and works as a financial adviser retired at 34. He is married, has three kids.  Robert and his wife then plan to return to school and become teachers, eventually living and working overseas.

There was nothing wrong with working as a financial advisor. I helped people make good decisions about their money, so that they could avoid future problems and achieve their goal of retirement or financial independence. Helping rich people get richer can be rewarding, especially because they pay well. Helping poor people get richer is even more satisfying. But I ultimately decided that there must be something that better aligns with my own values and preferences.

I learned a lot as a financial advisor. It also gave me an opportunity to manage my own financial affairs for my benefit. I was able to pay off a small mortgage in just seven years and, at the same time, save and invest enough money to be financially independent, given a relatively humble level of spending. I felt I progressed as far as suited me in my career, and I was looking for something more fulfilling. I just didn’t get as excited about going in to work each day as I used to.

When I was in university, my dream was to work overseas. I had already caught the travel bug, and I have lived overseas in France and Taiwan. It is an experience that I would like my children to have, so my original plan was to try and work in the Canadian foreign service. Unfortunately, though, that didn’t work out. After moving back to Calgary and working for a couple years, I took a real interest in public education. I read books about education theory and practice, I talked with teachers and I volunteered in my son’s school.

So when my wife suggested that, once we achieved financial independence, we could get our teaching certificates and work in international schools overseas, it made a lot of sense. Not only did it combine my dream with my interests, it is practical and it gave me something to look forward to and work toward. On top of that, I didn’t want to feel like the intervening years were spent just marking time, so we chose to get involved in the politics of public education locally. It has given us something we really care about to work on, it has given me opportunities to grow as a person, and we have met some really great people.

Is it necessary to do work that aligns with your values? No, the majority of people probably don’t have that luxury. But it’s certainly worth working toward. I doubt that the majority of people have a really clear idea of what work would be meaningful to them. It’s not something that students explore in school. It’s rarely a conversation that happens at the pub with friends. But look at your dreams, think about what gets you excited, and try to imagine how that could translate into a job that adds value to society. There’s a lot more to life than money.

Is your work meaningful? If so, in what way? If not, what are your dreams and passions?